(MENAFN Press) Doha, Qatar
Companies in the Qtel Group are working to help close the gender gap in access to mobile services, in support of the global GSMA mWomen Programme, with a stream of new initiatives planned for 2012 and 2013.
Earlier in June, leading international communications companies took part in a GSMA mWomen Working Group meeting in Jakarta, Indonesia, which reviewed progress on a number of key projects, and shared insights and key learnings from Asia, North Africa and the Middle East. Some of the initiatives undertaken by Qtel Group companies were highlighted at the event, along with some of the exciting opportunities to support empowering and life-enhancing services dedicated to women.
"Working Group meetings are a vital component of our programme's activities and we are grateful for the support of Qtel and Indosat in hosting the June 2012 event," said Trina DasGupta, mWomen Programme Director, GSMA. "The mobile industry is working to close the mobile phone gender gap and create life-enhancing services for women and we look forward to progressing those goals following this meeting."
Women in low-to-middle income countries are 21 percent less likely to own a mobile phone than their male counterparts, according to research conducted by the GSMA Development Fund and the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women. As a result, they are excluded from significant social and economic benefits. The GSMA mWomen Programme has set a target of reducing the mobile gender gap by 50 percent by 2014.
Companies in the Qtel Group, as part of its ongoing commitment to the GSMA mWomen Programme, continue to support a range of projects designed to close the mobile gender gap, and empower women through access to new and innovative technologies.
Indosat, part of the Qtel Group, has been one of the trial-blazers in this area, orchestrating a range of campaigns to tackle real and systemic social issues. Indonesia has a population of 240 million people, some 75 percent of whom live below the poverty line and with a parallel 75 percent penetration level for mobile phone access. Indosat is engaged with a number of programmes to leverage the opportunities presented by mobile phone use, and ensure that the services provided are tailored to the specific needs of women in a developing nation.
Working with RUMA, a leading micro-payment organisation, Indosat is empowering local women to earn additional income through the sale of prepaid cards. RUMA has recruited more than 10,000 "micro-entrepreneurs" in Jakarta, Banten and West Java to serve around 850,000 customers, helping to ensure a broader income spread and providing the foundation for the creation of mobile marketplace for low income families.
In addition, the company is working with Mercy Corps to support free medical and nutritional counselling in poorer areas of Indonesia, as well as making public health programmes accessible through mobile phones.
In 2011, Indosat launched a mobile package designed for women. This was complemented with the launch of the free "Info Wanita" information service in June 2012, using the Nokia Life platform. The service covers topics such as healthcare, childcare, business and life skills and is designed to have a material impact on living standards and access to economic opportunity.
Maryam Ali Al-Hajri, Senior Manager Marketing Research, Qtel Group, explains: "One of the core aspects of Qtel Group's approach to mWomen initiatives is the push to share key learnings across our global operations and with our colleagues in the industry, and to look to replicate successes as appropriate in different markets. As well as our efforts in Indonesia, we have also launched the Almas Line in Iraq - an offering that focuses on specific needs for female customers especially in the most conservative regions of Iraq-and are looking at potential projects in other Qtel Group companies."